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Eye on LS poll, Congress asks its ministers to pull up socks

It is no secret that the Congress and the NCP are itching to go their separate ways, and a recent meeting of NCP ministers to discuss focus areas for the party in the next general election has come as indication enough for the Congress to begin grooming itself to look good at the hustings. If the NCP discussions at Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s official residence in Malabar Hill centred on a comprehensive report on the 122 assembly segments the party wants to concentrate on, a Congress meeting at the Sahyadri state guesthouse on Thursday night saw its ministers being asked to ensure government welfare schemes reach the masses.


Uneasy Alliance: Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan of the Congress

Congress state in-charge Mohan Prakash, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and party state unit chief Manikrao Thakre were present at the meeting, where ministers were told to concentrate on the implementation of welfare schemes for the masses launched by the UPA government at the Centre. The Congress ministers were also told to start mass contact drives, district-level tours across the state, janata darbars and meetings of communities at district and regional levels, said a senior Congress minister, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The meeting took a review of 170-odd seats contested by the party in 2009. Assessment was done on the political scenario, the party’s preparedness and the possible outcome in the polls.


Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar of the NCP. file pics

“It was decided to concentrate more on the seats if the party has to go solo during the next general election,” said the minister. Discussions were also held on complaints made by party workers about ministers not devoting enough time for the minorities and the reserved categories, for whom many welfare schemes have been launched by the Congress-led governments at the Centre as well as the state.
Apart from the implementation of the party manifesto announced before the previous election, a charter of demands forwarded by the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee to the government was also discussed.

The 105-point charter of demands pertains to the welfare of reserved categories that constitute the backbone of the party vote bank. The Congress also held a meeting yesterday at Tilak Bhavan to deliberate on the Jan Sevak system, which forms a dedicated route for taking the programmes of the state government and the Centre to the common man. Thakre said ministers were directed to call Jan Sevaks to the block-level meetings.

CM Chavan said there were a few programmes that were ignored earlier, like the MNREGA, in which the state was getting less funding over a sustained period of time compared to Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Under the accelerated irrigation benefit plan, the state government got Rs 700 crore less this time. The discrepancy was brought to the notice of the Centre. For irrigation, priority will be given to big projects where crores have been spent.  

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